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Forget free agency, how about a trade?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 26, 2011 03:23 PM

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The Red Sox needed starting pitching before John Lackey was lost for the 2012 season. But who?

The two best free agents or potential free agents are CC Sabathia and C.J. Wilson. Sabathia will stay with the Yankees when it's all said and done. Wilson prides himself on never having tasted alcohol, so he should fit right in with the Bud Light Boys in the rotation here.

Bad jokes aside, Wilson will go for the money and the Red Sox always have money. But there are no indications he wants to play in the northeast.

The other notable free agent is Mark Buehrle. Most believe he will either stay with the White Sox or sign with his hometown Cardinals.

The rest of the list includes guys like Jeff Francis, Hiroki Kuroda (who already decided once he didn't want to get traded to Boston), Roy Oswalt, Edwin Jackson and Paul Maholm.

The Red Sox could probably pluck a No. 4 type off the market. But their best bet might be making a trade.

In Kevin Youkilis, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson and Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox have four players in their roster who could return a pitcher depending on how they're packaged.

Their prospect list includes Will Middlebrooks, Bryce Brentz, Ryan Kalish, Xander Bogaerts, Jose Iglesias and Brandon Jacobs. Middlebrooks and Kalish are close to being major league ready while Brentz, Bogaert, Iglesias and Jacobs have significant potential.

Could a package of Youkilis, Reddick and Bogaerts bring back a starter from the Giants or Athletics? Both teams in the Bay Area badly need offense.

Ben Cherington has a good relationship with future Padres GM Josh Byrnes. Maybe there's a deal to be made there.

Given their needs, the Sox can't hold the current roster sacrosanct, not after two straight third place finishes. Rather than fish in a small pool of flawed free agents, Cherington could cast a wide net and see what deals can be made.

The Sox need pitching and they need some shaking up. A trade accomplishes both.

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